Times 28683 – it doesn’t have to be sunny, thankfully.

A most enjoyable puzzle, of medium difficulty, I thought. There was one word I didn’t know, but saw from wordplay (9a), and an antelope we all know, for a change.

Definitions underlined in bold, (ABC)* indicating anagram of ABC, anagrinds in italics, [deleted letters in square brackets].

1 Negative element in county team (8)
DOWNSIDE – DOWN = N. Ireland county, SIDE = team.
5 Combination of blood groups that’s found in African forest (6)
BAOBAB – Well A, B, AB and O are all blood groups, so take two O’s and sort them out. Apparently some baobab trees have been carbon dated as over 2000 years old.
9 Nation confused by the writer’s contradiction (8)
ANTINOMY – (NATION)* then MY = the writer’s. I got this from wordplay then looked it up; it means a contradiction when two laws conflict with each other. It looks like antimony spelt wrong, to me.
10 Where most have convictions, image improvement is working (6)
PRISON – PR (public relations), IS, ON = working.
12 Reckon railway signal’s broken by wife or other females in same state (12)
COUNTRYWOMEN – COUNT (reckon) RY (railway) OMEN (signal) insert W for wife.
15 Wise man adding name to one’s performance (5)
SOLON – SOLO (performance by one person) N[ame]. Ancient statesman known as one of the seven wise men of Greece.
16 Tax lots of wine — such actions have lasting consequences (4,5)
TEST CASES – tax = TEST, wine comes in CASES.
18 Eg Eliot’s work in bank, in opposite sense (9)
REVERSELY – VERSE, what T S Eliot wrote, inside RELY = bank.
19 After zero, mostly call into question critical marks (5)
OBELI – O for zero, BELI[E]. Plural of obelus. Obeli are those little dagger marks, also division signs in printing.
20 Highly distinctive singer getting note wrong right after bar (12)
COUNTERTENOR – COUNTER = bar, as in a shop; (NOTE)*, R[ight]. I think “highly distinctive” because he sings higher notes than a normal tenor.
24 Small organ piece, part of larger one (6)
SLIVER – S[mall], LIVER an organ.
25 Like most piano music in an album I arranged (8)
BIMANUAL –  (AN ALBUM I)*. Meaning played with two hands, obviously.
26 What student may achieve in sixty minutes (6)
DEGREE – double definition.
27 Wild animal bound, attached to stake, initially (8)
ANTELOPE – ANTE = stake in betting, LOPE = bound. The first time I can remember our antelope being “antelope” instead of some more obscurely named ungulate.
1 Guardian’s charge put up in no-win situation (4)
DRAW – WARD reversed, my FOI.
2 What’s sound engineer accomplished in improving things on tracks? (4)
WATT – James WATT, steam and railway engineer, he sounds like WHAT.
3 Drink daily, cause of depression (9)
SUNDOWNER – SUN the daily paper, a DOWNER a cause of depression. Drink invented by Brit expats in Africa, for which there seem to be many different recipes claiming to be the correct one. In my house it’s an apero at six, dry white wine with a dash of Campari, Mrs p calls it a pink lady.
4 Political prognostication, piece of wisdom I, not he or you, needed (6,6)
DOMINO THEORY – brilliantly hidden as above, took me a while to see what it was.
6 Old weapon found in a river bank (5)
ARROW – A, R[iver], ROW = bank.
7 Hard to learn under coach that’s venomous creature (10)
BUSHMASTER – BUS (coach), H[ard], MASTER = learn. Some kind of nasty snake from South America I believe.
8 Crazy family that requires careful steps (6,4)
BANANA SKIN – BANANAS = crazy, KIN = family.
11 Kind of Christian convert best in prayer (12)
PRESBYTERIAN – (BEST IN PRAYER)*, a neat anagram with didn’t take much working out.
13 Socrates I’d badly punished in Greek way (10)
OSTRACISED – (SOCRATES ID)*. Before getting its general English meaning, it meant being sent out of Athens for ten years.
14 Spice, say, for about pound (10)
FLAVOURING – FAVOURING something being “FOR” it, insert L for pound.
17 Non-alcoholic drink that’s sold in bars (9)
CHOCOLATE – cryptic definition and /or double definition.
21 In that situation, it’s repeatedly said to be comforting (5)
THERE –  if you say “there, there,” its supposed to be comforting. I don’t think it works very well though.
22 Wrestling ring with additional problem (4)
SUMO – SUM (problem in addition) O (ring).
23 This is the last signal to player crossing line (4)
CLUE – L inside CUE = signal to player.


77 comments on “Times 28683 – it doesn’t have to be sunny, thankfully.”

  1. 18:26
    WATT doesn’t sound like ‘what’ in my dialect, but that hardly mattered. DOMINO THEORY has to be the best hidden I’ve seen.

  2. I didn’t find this at all easy, but chipped away at it and completed eventually in 53 minutes.

    The unhelpful clue at 5ac obstructed progress in the NE segment but working on the principle that since B is the only consonant used for blood groups there needed to be at least two and probably three of them in the answer I remembered the existence of such a word meaning ‘tree’ that had plagued me in the past and eventually dredged up BAOBAB from the back of my mind.

    NHO or had forgotten ANTINOMY, BUSHMASTER and didn’t know of OSTRACISE having associations with Greece. I have never had reason to think of piano music as BIMANUAL although I am aware that there are exceptions such as Ravel’s Concerto for the Left Hand.

    1. An ‘ostrakon’ was the urn into which a baked clay voting token placed when deciding if a citizen was to be banished from the city. I saw many in the museum at Epidauros, and there are probably many more in the Athens museum.

      1. The ‘ostrakon’ was the potsherd on which the name of the candidate was inscribed before it was put in the urn – an early form of secret ballot. See Zabadak’s comment below.

  3. A 29 minute fail. Put in “antonime” for ANTINOMY, a word I thought I’d NHO, but which it turned out I’d forgotten. I liked DOMINO THEORY, BAOBAB and the cryptic def/double def construction of CHOCOLATE.

    Turns out the BUSHMASTER is one of four species in the genus Lachesis, named after our old crossword friend, one of the Three Fates.

    1. Same here, almost. I put in antimone.
      Lachesis – one of my favourite piano pieces 🙂

      1. I didn’t know the piano piece but I’ve just listened to a couple of YouTube versions and really enjoyed it. Helps that ELP are about my vintage. Thanks.

          1. Including large parts of their masterpiece (IMO) The Endless Enigma. What a year 1972 was for prog rock: Trilogy, Close To The Edge, Foxtrot and Thick As A Brick. I was 14 and in heaven.

            1. Same here: I was 13 in 72 and wore out all the albums you mention! I’m currently studying for Associate ABRSM on the piano, and I’m playing the Fugue from Endless Enigma as my first piece (followed by the Beethoven Pathetique sonata and Joplin’s Maple Leaf Rag). It’s quite demanding, as there are some tricky intervals in it and the passagework is awkward, so I slow it down a bit.

              1. More power to your very nimble fingers! Keith Emerson was a genius, revered by the likes of Wakeman. His precision was legendary.

              2. Good luck with it. My daughter did the Pathétique for her ARSM, motivated in part by wanting to play it better than me, which she did by miles. My son then did exactly the same with one of Schubert’s impromptus. Little buggers, I’m very proud of them.

                1. Thanks, k! Wow, they are very talented; congrats to them and you. They’re a credit to you. I think everyone loves the Pathetique – some great melodies in there, and it’s a fun challenge 🙂

        1. Pleased to hear that, Z 🙂
          They did some very nice work in the first half of the 70s.

  4. Stone Walls do not a Prison make,
    Nor Iron bars a Cage;
    Minds innocent and quiet take
    That for an Hermitage.
    (To Althea, from prison. Richard Lovelace)

    25 mins mid-brekker. I liked it. But I did think the blood groups one was tricky for anyone not familiar with the tree.
    Ta setter and Pip.

    1. BAOBAB was my first in – that’s its third appearance this year so it’s becoming a bit of a, um, chestnut.

      1. Does the fact that something appears a lot in crosswords make it non-obscure? Seems a bit self-referential, indeed self-indulgent. I’m not sure, perhaps we should ask Beerbohm Tree.

        1. I wouldn’t say it made it less obscure, just less likely to be unfamiliar to regular solvers.

  5. Thanks piquet for pointing out that excellent hidden, even after I correctly biffed DOMINO THEORY I couldn’t see it. 41.30 for me, very enjoyable crossword. I found parts of it heavy going but, as is usually the way, looking back from the finish line it all makes perfect sense and I wonder what my problem was. LOsI were in the SW, FLAVOURING, SLIVER and DEGREE, and CLUE on the other side. Good to see an ANTELOPE being called an antelope, but it still took me ages to get.

  6. 12:04. Like our blogger I didn’t know ANTINOMY and wondered briefly if the answer should have been ANTIMONY. Great hidden for DOMINO THEORY. I liked DEGREE and CLUE too. Thanks Pip and setter.

      1. B****r. It’s a bit like spelling ANENOME… or is it ANEMONE? Fixed after the 60 minute countdown expired, because I can!

  7. I’m constantly being teased by my children for pronouncing the ‘h’ in ‘wh’. I find it completely normal. They just laugh. So to me WATT and WHAT sound different. But I realise in common speech they are pretty much homophones. Great puzzle, completed in 24’50” on train to Cosne-sur-Loire.

    1. There are plenty of people around the Estuary who don’t even pronounce the T. Consider yourself properly refined.

  8. 51 minutes, and above average difficulty for me. Mind you, impossibly, I say that after most puzzles. I’m not down near the bottom of the Snitch table without reason. COD to DOMINO THEORY, although logically it really ought to go to CLUE. There were many other fine clues too, but those didn’t include for me the rather weak WATT or CHOCOLATE. I hesitated about both of those, thinking there must be more to them. Thank you Pip and setter.

    1. Agree I thought “engineer accomplished in improving things on tracks”..was a bit much. “What sound engineer” would have been enough, though still weak.

      1. … especially as James Watt had nothing to do with railway engines. His was a static engine, not a locomotive.

  9. DNF, NHO OBELI and couldn’t create it from wordplay. SOLON was a Greek too far, though probably should have worked it out. DOMINO THEORY is a beauty!

    Thanks to Harmonic Row I’m off to listen to my scratchy vinyl of Pictures at an Exhibition.

    thank you Piquet and setter

  10. I put ANTIMONE for 9A and as far as I can see, it’s a valid solution. I took ‘the writer’s’ to be a contraction of ‘the writer is’ which led to ME rather than MY.


    1. I think it’s worth a VAR review. Curiously, Chambers doesn’t notice ANTINOME, but most of the other sources do. I think you might get away with it at the Championship.

    2. Agree. That’s what I put in, and I can’t see how it can technically be wrong.

      1. I agree, though Wiktionary has:
        antinome (plural antinomes)
        (archaic, rare) Synonym of antinomy
        So I would prefer the MY ending, but accept the ME.

        1. The setter could have distinguished between the conceptual (MY)and the concrete
          (ME), but I haven’t come up with a clue adjustment yet.
          Or am I making assumptions?

          1. Collins: antinome : a THING (my capitals) that contradicts….
            Merriam Webster : antinome : a contradictory (sic) such as occurs in antinomy

            Is ” It is not in Chambers ” a valid excuse for a setter?

  11. Liked this. No problems although antinomy does look the wrong way round to me. And others apparently 🙂

    In other news it seems likely that Verlaine will be attending the Champrionships in October

  12. Another ANTINOME here, certainly supporting the appeal, valid parsing leading to valid answer. DOMINO THEORY LOI, nearly put demand theory.

    15′, thanks pip and setter.

  13. A rather beautiful puzzle, with one of the best hiddens ever presented and an anagram straight out of the “flit on cheering angel” and “I’m an evil Tory bigot” collection.
    OSTRACISM, as I recall, derives from the casting of votes in the form of pottery shards (ὄστρακα) to democratically decide on the expulsion of undesirables. We still do it, of course, using the Daily Mail.
    And, as our fine blogger says, how pleasant to have an actual ANTELOPE instead of the usual unlikely collection of letters.
    PS: did you know, if you put an S on the end, it’s also an anagram of BRITNEY SPEARS?

  14. James Watt had nothing to do with the development of the railway, and in fact discouraged his employee William Murdoch from continuing to experiment with a form of steam carriage. He was a very litigious man, and had no hesitation in pursuing actions against anyone who he thought infringed his patents, or who used them in ways he did not approve of. (See, for example, the difficulties faced by William Symington in his work to develop steam navigation.)

  15. Unfortunately early on I chucked in SPINET for a small organ with pin inside set. Didn’t really work, but when the other answers confirmed the S and the I, I thought it must be right. The system usually roots out dodgy answers, but didn’t on this occasion.
    Otherwise, very enjoyable

  16. It seems that recently we’ve had a number of words that I’d either never heard of or are so silly as to be unlikely (to me, anyway), but exist. REVERSELY, BIMANUAL, BUSHMASTER, ANTINOMY. Despite the chorus of praise for the excellent DOMINO THEORY it didn’t catch me out: the ever so slightly awkward combination of words alerted me. The definition at 12ac seemed a bit odd. I had ANTINOME, which I now see exists as well with much the same meaning, so surely it’s OK then. The crossword took me a long time and as the hour approached I used aids. 61 minutes eventually, but DNF and said to be wrong anyway, but …

  17. Most difficult puzzle of the week so far. It took me fifty minutes, not helped by my sloppy handwriting holding me up for COUNTERTENOR.

  18. From DRAW to SOLON in 27:46 with a lot of brow furrowing en route. Lucky to interpret “the writer’s” as MY for the unknown ANTINOMY. Needed FLAVOURING to correct my SAGAN, having interpreted say as EG at the beginning of 14d. Smiled at SLIVER. Had seen BAOBAB often enough in these puzzles to be able to put it in without crossers. DEGREE took a while. Thanks setter and Pip.

  19. 31’18”
    Smartly away, stayed on gamely. STEWARDS ENQUIRY (ME/MY)
    My reasons for the enquiry are stated above in replies; but lots to praise here.
    Had the advantage of Le Petit Prince for the tree, and countertenor went straight in as I was one.
    Thank you Pip and setter, and all here for your, as always, enlightening input.

  20. WATT LOI after a lunch break when I then saw CHOCOLATE and the ante of ANTELOPE. Fingers crossed for SOLON and ANTINOMY.
    Thanks to blogger and setter.

  21. 54.00

    Well above my WITCH if I had one. Really struggled to solve the FLAVOURING SOLO and SLIVER combo at the end for some reason

    Liked CLUE

    Thanks Pip and Setter

  22. 15:38, so a slightly dilatory solve against my usual benchmarks, but a pleasant one. I spent some time deciding between ANTINOME and ANTINOMY before getting the “right” one.

  23. DNF, defeated by the annoying WATT. Clearly the fact that I didn’t get it makes me biased against the clue, but I immediately thought of Watt and then ruled it out because ‘what’s sound’=Watt seemed too obvious.

    I initially put ‘antinome’ before thinking that ANTIMONY was slightly more likely to be right, though going by the comments above both would be OK. Didn’t know SOLON the wise man but got it from wordplay, didn’t know (or had forgotten) what OBELI are, and didn’t see that DOMINO THEORY was a hidden until after I’d entered it. Don’t think I’ve ever seen REVERSELY anywhere.

    COD Domino theory

  24. 29:48

    No major issues. Didn’t know ANTINOME and doesn’t seem that long since AOI SOLON appeared somewhere. Finished off with FLAVOURING and DEGREE.

  25. A pleasant solve, taking me 31 minutes, about average for me. I thought a couple of the clues were a bit weak (WATT, CHOCOLATE), but no major issues. I agree there are two valid answers for 9ac.
    LOI – CLUE
    Thanks to piquet and other contributors.

  26. 14:32. I thought this was excellent, but it’s slightly spoiled by 9ac. I hesitated over which of two unknowns (ANTINOME/Y) was more likely to be an actual word. Turns out they both are but by sheer luck I picked the one that resulted in a green square.

    1. Funny, to me ANTINOMY seems a somewhat everyday word but ANTINOME a denizen of Mephisto—meaning I wouldn’t have thought of it at all.
      (Just got around to this one…)

      1. I did in the end decide that ANTIMONY was much more likely, which on reflection I can’t justify objectively so perhaps I knew the word, if not consciously.

  27. Didn’t start this till late in the day, and due to various interruptions can’t record a time. I would guess it was around the hour mark, including about ten minutes or so on my LOIs OBELI and BANANA SKIN. My pleasure at finishing with everything seemingly correct was cut short when I found the ANTINOME was incorrect. However, seeing the comments above I am happy that it can, maybe, be considered an acceptable answer.

  28. I‘m another who put in ANTINOME for 9ac
    Kind of glad to see I‘m not alone!
    Liked DOMINO THEORY too, so simple when you see it…
    Thanks setter and blogger

  29. With regard to the ANTINOMY / ME debate going on above; I felt sure it was MY because of the use of “the setter’s… “, being genitive case, so MY. I felt sure the setter would have written “the setter is…” if he/she meant us to get to antinoME. But I accept that “the setter’s” could be short for “the setter is” so both are justifiable, just that MY is more likely.

  30. 5om. DNF as put ANTONYMS at 9ac. Decided it was anagram of nation +mys and unilaterally ignored the leftover I. COD ostracised. LOI – 14d. Spent 10m trying to start it with CLOVE. NHO REVERSELY. Nevertheless a pleasing and satisfying midweek workout.

  31. BANANA SKIN and CLUE were late in for me so I struggled with different ones to most people here but still a relatively easy crossword overall. I say ‘what’ and ‘Watt’ as ‘wot’ but it does surprise me that all the complaints so far are by people who say ‘what’ as ‘hwot’ rather than those who say ‘what’ as ‘wut’ even when the word is stressed (as is the case for most people from the Southern states of the US and for black Americans).

  32. DNF, defeated by Obeli, Solon and I couldn’t see Flavouring.
    I thought this a somewhat strange puzzle – I didn’t much like Watt, Sliver, There, Degree, Chocolate – but, of course, there was that superb inclusion and Antelope was neat.
    Curate’s egg, for me.

  33. 27.43 but a bit miffed about antinomy. I put in antinome and checked to find it too meant a contradiction. C’est la vie.

    Tackled in two parts , the second being a bit less sluggish than the first which was straight of the golf course. A similarly depressing pursuit.

  34. It’s been my birthday so I’ve only just got in from a night on the tiles. I was hung up on the second word of 4D being GENIUS. GEN (Piece of wisdom), I , US (not he or you). Talk about overthinking….

  35. Chuffed to see that most others struggled for a while with this, as I fared better than usual, only held up by NHOs like SOLON and DOMINO THEORY (clever hidden!), ANTINOMY. Enjoyed the PDMs of DOWNSIDE and COUNTRYWOMEN and CHOCOLATE. Had to look up COUNTERTENOR unfortunately (knew the word, but failed to see Counter), and TEST CASES.

  36. Solving time here was improved by ‘down’ being in front of mind when considering crossing clues 1a and 3d, and ‘count’, albeit in different contexts, beginning 12a and 20a.
    Dnf because lacked the last crosser to solve 25a bimanual, stupidly blind to 23d. A case of ISIHAC.

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